Amid more than $1 billion revenue shortfall, Ohio’s General Assembly pushed state budget negotiations closer to the brink Tuesday. Today’s eleventh hour horse-trading over a proposed Medicaid lockout and complex shell game with state dollars leaves Gov. John Kasich has less than 48 hours to review House Bill 49, the state’s budget as enacted by the legislature, before the start of the new fiscal year on Saturday. 


“Six years of questionable tax policy has left lawmakers today with tough policy decisions,” said state Rep. Rogers (D-Mentor-On-The-Lake). 


“The state’s biennial budget has many respectable aspects, including additional funds destined to fight the statewide opioid crisis and earmarks for several local projects,” Rogers noted. 


However, Rogers had serious concerns over the proposed reduction in funding for public schools in Lake County, the proposed future freeze on Medicaid enrollment, and the shifting of $35 million in local government fund allocations originally earmarked for communities to help fight the opioid epidemic. 


To shore up the states deteriorating revenues and present a balanced budget, lawmakers have in essence raided special funds, ended local grant programs, delayed payments of certain bills and utilized continued questionable revenue projections, even though Ohio spent the last 54 months trailing the nation’s job growth. 


“I simply cannot support a budget that is not fiscally sound, cheats our children, will result in additional tax levies and will likely neglect upwards of a half a million of Ohio’s working poor, our most vulnerable, in the near future,” said Rogers. “Before I give my full support to any budget, I have to be confident that it takes care of all of my constituents. This budget, quite frankly, does not accomplish that.” 


“While the rest of America is recovering from the global recession, six years of Republican mismanagement have held us back from solving real problems like attracting better-paying jobs, reducing healthcare costs, and strengthening our children’s schools,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Our economy continues to underperform and people at home are feeling it. The state is on a downward spiral to recession.” 


This budget while seeking a six-year federal waiver for a revised Medicaid tax to help keep counties and transit authorities from losing $200 million per year, local communities and schools have and will continue to ask local taxpayers for more money because of state cuts during the last six years. Another action by lawmakers raises questions of constitutionality with the loosening a future access to agency funds, such as that of the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, should the state’s budget underperform before the end of the next fiscal year. 


“A budget that’s built on broken economic assumptions and ideology - instead of fact and reality - isn’t a real budget at all. It’s fake,” said the lead Democrat on the House budget panel, state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “One-time money and shell games are a recipe for economic instability and even deeper financial problems for hardworking taxpayers in the coming months and years.” 


Finally, Rogers stated that the six years of tax-shifting seen in Ohio has may have well caused the state to trail the nation in job creation and increasing poverty level wage jobs. Ohio could better attract new businesses and good-paying jobs by rebuilding local communities and prioritizing education funding for every student to earn the skills they need to compete.

 
 
 
  
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